by Mary Hay Davis
Remember the popular children’s game show, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? It was an educational sensation – the perfect marriage of learning and fun.
Well, luckily Carmen has a cousin – one who can educate us writers just as Carmen educated a generation of children.
Who is this favored family member, and how can she help build your writing career?
Her name is Alexa Pareto, and she’s a Marketing Specialist’s best friend.
[NOTE: Yes – a Marketing Specialist. Remember? Last week’s post? If you’re going to become a successful freelancer, you’ve got to switch your mindset and start thinking of yourself as a marketer first, and a writer second.]
And okay, I’ll confess. Alexa Pareto isn’t an actual person, but a combination of two tools that, when combined, can help propel your freelance writing career to new heights.
The first part, Alexa, is the website that monitors web traffic and ranks websites according to popularity and traffic. Alexa is a Marketing Specialist’s best friend because she makes marketing research a breeze by doing much of the hard work for you – sorting websites (aka prospects) by popularity, topic and industry.
This is where it gets good. Not only can she help you find potential companies to contact for work, she can even help you break into specialty niches. Click on ‘Directory’ and you’ll find a main list of 16 topics. Click on one of those and you’ll see Alexa’s gone a step further by breaking them all down into subcategories.
So say you’re a writer – er, I mean a Marketing Specialist – who’s trying to break into the health field. Sure you’ve written a few health pieces, but you’d really like to build your client base (and portfolio) in this area. Just click on Alexa’s Health link and you’ll find 39 subcategories. Keep clicking through the navigation until you’ve narrowed it down to relevant sites for your topic of interest, then watch as the list of potential clients appears.
While Alexa is indeed a powerful prospecting tool, you can really turbocharge your freelance career by adding another core marketing concept – The Pareto Principle.
The Pareto Principle is actually a concept that’s been utilized across a variety of industries, but its premise is this: 20% of your efforts will produce 80% of your results.
What this means for us Marketing Specialists is that 20% of our clients will likely generate 80% of our work volume/income, so it’s the wise writer who develops and nurtures relationships based upon this principle.
So by all means work on the 80% of projects that will only produce 20% of your results. Just don’t become a slave to them and focus on them at the expense of the bigger picture.
When you first start out, it’s easy to spend an inordinate amount of time perfecting the one project you do have. But in doing so, you put prospecting and marketing on the back burner, which is a very short-sighted strategy that will hinder you when that project ends.
A good guideline for beginning writers is to strive to spend as much time marketing as you do writing. Once you build momentum and get the client-generating wheels set in motion, you can taper off your marketing and prospecting efforts to a more reasonable 80/20% writing/prospecting ratio.
“You mean I’ll always have to prospect?” you say?
The answer is, “No – only if you want to work.”
Too many freelancers (in any profession) have garnered a big-paying client and then watched as the cash-cow dried up for any number of reasons. Those freelancers then go back to starting from square one – an empty prospecting pool.
So take some time today to learn more about your new friend Alexa Pareto, and see how she can help take your freelance writing career to new heights by helping you find not just clients, but those 20% of quality clients that will produce 80% of your results.
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RESOURCE NOTE: A good book to help you start churning your prospecting wheels is ‘Get Clients Now!’ by C.J. Hayden.
Mary Hay Davis is a professional writer whose work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Costco Connection, Family Times/Parenting Today and San Diego Family, Magazine. She specializes in writing SEO web content, advetorials, informational articles and marketing material. Before becoming a writer, Mary worked over two decades as a police dispatcher, an occupation rich in anecdotes about the foibles and frailties of the human condition. You can contact Mary through her two websites: www.webprowriting.com and www.maryhaydavis.com.